The Best Exercise Choices for Seniors
Here are Some of The Best Exercise Choices for Seniors…
Are you or the senior in your life considering starting an exercise program? It is never too late to begin exercising and moving more no matter what your age. There are many options to choose from but generally the best exercise for you is one that you are going to stick with, provided it works within your physical limitations and is cleared by your doctor. Studies show that people who exercise and move more have the immunity, muscle mass and cholesterol levels of people much younger than themselves. Small changes to start can make a big difference in your energy levels giving you the resolve to add a more strenuous program to your daily routine. As you progress in your fitness journey, here are some of the best exercises to consider incorporating into your day. These programs are designed to improve muscle mass, joint mobility and balance. Work with a professional and consider your goals before setting up your exercise routine as each exercise may deliver unique benefits or pose risks to your health in some way. Check out your community’s gym or fitness center or look at local gyms and YMCAs for guidance and access to weights, classes and equipment. Consider exercises that you can do from a chair for seniors and special programs designed especially for seniors with health and mobility issues. Keep in mind that it takes 30 days to establish a new habit, so don’t give up. Push yourself a little and you may find that the new activities become something you can’t live without.
Some people say swimming is the perfect exercise. The reason being it aids in both building cardiovascular fitness as well as strengthening your muscles all with no impact. To achieve the same fitness benefits most other forms of exercise will put stress on your joints something that many seniors need to avoid. Swimming is helpful to those with arthritis and may find this form of movement therapeutic as well so there is an added benefit. Water aerobics classes are another possibility if you are not interested or able to swim. It’s great way to participate in low impact cardio and strength building as well and can be a great way to socialize with others.
Yoga is a great possibility for many seniors as it can help to build strength, increase joint mobility and can even improve cardiovascular fitness depending on the form of yoga you are participating in. It is low impact and gentle on your joints but still weight bearing which is vital to building strong bones and muscles. There are many different types of yoga so start small and find something that gives you the basics so you can learn how to perform the poses correctly and safely. Chair yoga can be a wonderful option for seniors and those recovering from an injury and may be a good, safe place to start. Be wary of fast-moving options like power yoga, vinyasa flow or ashtanga which can be higher impact and involve tricky fast-moving transitions which can be taxing on your joints. Restorative yoga is a good option as it allows you to settle into a pose with the use of supportive blocks, props and bolsters removing the chance of straining to hold a pose. Yoga Nidra, or the Yoga of Sleep can be a wonderful way to relieve stress and process emotions. Yin Yoga is also one to consider as it consists of mostly seated poses held for 5-10 minutes designed to help relubricate joints and muscle fascia increasing mobility. There is also a social aspect to yoga that should not be overlooked particularly if joining a yoga studio. Many yoga programs look to foster a deeper connection with yourself and with those around you providing a strong sense of community which is so essential for healthy aging.
- Weight Training
Strength training has been shown to be the best way to improve muscle mass something that is essential to good balance and a stable spine. Although loss of muscle is a normal part of aging, many older adults experience severe muscle loss which can be debilitating and lead to falls. Weight training is the best way to build and maintain a strong core and fight unwanted belly fat a marker for unhealthy aging. You don’t have to be a body builder to reap the rewards of weight training. You can hire a trainer, watch a YouTube video or work with your local gym or YMCA to learn the basics of setting up a simple effective weight training regimen. If you are homebound, consider buying a small weight set and exercise bands and working out from a chair in your home. Exercise bands can be especially effective for doing rows and pulling motions that can strengthen your back and improve your posture.
Much like yoga, Pilates is a great no impact way to strengthen your core which will help to improve your balance and your posture. There are many Pilates classes available at local gyms, YouTube videos to watch for a home routine or consider hiring a Pilates instructor to come to your home for a period to train you and set you up with an effective routine. Some Pilates programs use specialized equipment such as reformers which need to be approached with the guidance of a professional. Also consider the added benefit of attending a class to connect with others who are learning to do Pilates and enjoy the socialization in addition to the physical benefits of the program.
If you cannot participate in any of the activities listed, don’t discount the benefits of a simple walking regimen. Walking is easy to do requiring very little equipment and most people can participate. If weather is an issue, consider joining a mall walking group or even walk around the inside of your home during rainy days. If you can climb stairs that can be a good option as well but will not work for everybody. Research has shown that people who increase their activity levels to 10,000 steps per day are 46% less likely to die in the next 10 years. That number may not be for you so consider your current fitness level and start small maybe even a quarter mile each day for the first month as you build your stamina and endurance. Not only is walking good for your fitness level but has shown to fight depression. Getting out into the fresh air and taking deep breaths can boost your mood and your immune system. Walk with a walking buddy and make it a social event or even form a group. It can be a fun way to improve your health both physically and mentally and can make for a fun engaging way to spend time with friends.
Cycling is a great way to engage in cardiovascular exercise without putting excessive stress on your bones and joints an important consideration for many older adults. Studies show that cycling improves cardiovascular health, metabolic health and cognitive performance. These benefits can be reaped whether you choose to cycle indoors or outside. Stationary bikes can be convenient allowing you to cycle anytime day or night from the comfort of your home. Classes can be a fun and social way to cycle indoors and meet new people who share your interest. Cycling outside has the added benefit of enhancing your mood as you get out in nature and the community while you exercise. Join a cycling group to connect with friends and explore new trails together in order to add to the experience by combining exploration and adventure in a safe way. Be sure and use good equipment and find a reputable bike shop to perform maintenance on your bike so that you are as safe as possible and of course always wear protective gear such as a helmet.
These are just a few of the options to consider and always consult with your healthcare provider or doctor before starting any exercise program.